Home' LOTL : July 2004 Contents Years and years ago, before I dug my grrl roots into the
Sydney scene, I contemplated moving to Melbourne. On
an impromptu visit I fell in love. I swooned wandering along
St Kilda pier. I adored the Paris end of Collins Street. And I
delighted in cruising the city's meandering streets, seeking out
a different café and bar each night. Inner city Melbourne had
baristas, bartenders, and urban beautification before Sydney
could say Darling Harbour.
Don't get me wrong. I love Sydney. But on that first blissful
reconnoitre of my Southern sister I was smitten. I would sit in the
Black Cat Café on Brunswick Street every morning and jot down
my musings. I contemplated buying a black beret. I considered
doing a course at Swinburne. Renting an Art Deco apartment in
Elwood. Starting a poetry club. Even better, a wine bar. I know
-- I'm a dag, but Melbourne brings out the artist in me.
It's the distinctly European feel. The cool grey days one after
another, the abundance of old, beautifully preser ved buildings,
languid strolls along the Yarra, and the rattle of trams can
convince you that you are in another country. What Sydneysiders
often complain about is actually part of Melbourne's arty charm.
On a recent visit I noticed that things had changed.
Melbourne has enjoyed a renaissance and revamping which
makes it an even more attractive destination for sojourns. As far
as tourism goes, Melbourne has had a big win, being recently
voted No.2 emerging city in the world for gay and lesbian
travellers by gay.com.
There is now more than ever for a girl to sink her teeth into
when she hits town. If shopping and eating are at the top of your
list of Epicurean pleasures you will have a ball in Melbourne. As
soon as you check in to your accommodation, you will want to
snatch up the fantastic plastic and head out the door. Even if
your digs are exceedingly pleasant, like the conveniently
located Mercure Hotel (www.mercure.com.au), the stylish
Hotel Lindrum, or the gay-owned inner-city guesthouse,
169 Drummond Street (www.169drummond.com.au), the call
of those long and wide, hip and happening streets is too strong
MERRYN JOHNS REVISITS A LONG LOST
LOVE, DOWN SOUTH.
Now that winter is here, make sure you arrive with an empty
suitcase so you can return home with some decent, groovy cool
weather apparel. Head to Chapel Street for the best retail therapy,
but Acland Street and Brunswick Street are always full of
surprises. When your arms are loaded with goodies, return to
base to freshen up and head out for cocktail hour. There is a
plethora of plush and trendy watering holes to choose from, but
we discovered that the charming boutique Hotel Lindrum does
a very nice local champagne in their chic bar.
As for eating out, you will be spoiled for choice, but we can
recommend a funky, romantic little spot tucked away in one of
Chinatown's side streets called Chez Phat (www.chezphat.com).
Finding this place can be an adventure in itself, and if you have
both dressed up for the evening you may feel as though you are
inside a glamorous film noir, trying to ascertain the location of
that hotly desired gin joint. Up some stairs, behind a door and
you are greeted with sophistication and retro style. Now it's time
to sink down into the high-backed, latte-coloured velvet chairs
and enjoy a romantic meal. We started with marinated olives with
paprika roasted almonds, chorizo choux pastry fritters with aioli,
then tucked into flat bread topped with baby clams, onion, garlic
and piquillo peppers. The perfect quick and tasty pre-theatre treat
prepared by Chef Catriona Freeman. But there are delicious and
hearty main meals as well, from aged yearling porterhouse to
If you are a clever girl you will book tickets to the Broadway
smash hit The Producers, and enjoy a mirthful evening in the
beautiful Princess Theatre. This show is impossibly, hilariously
camp, and since it may not come to Sydney, catch it while you are
in town (Ticketek 132 849).
For a caffeine-fuelled recovery breakfast, there are two spots
on Brunswick Street I relish. Mario's, where the coffee is so
smooth that adding sugar is a sin, and Madame Sousou's --
I just love my eggs Benedict with Bentwood chairs -- it's that
European thing again. For a dose of culture (in other words,
you've spent all your money) explore the stunning Federation
Square which is a miracle in modern architecture, and the
newly renovated NGV International which boats some of the
world's finest art objects. Allow yourself a couple of hours, as
there's plenty to feast your eyes on.
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